14th July 2016: the UK finally got it’s grubby little claws on the newest app to take the world by storm – Pokémon Go.
Now, as a fan of Pokémon myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new app, which brings Pokémon from the anime and the games into the real world using augmented reality software. It gets people walking about and reliving their childhood and I see nothing wrong with that, personally. So – I downloaded it as soon as I heard the news. This is my first week as a Pokémon Trainer.
Day 1: Thursday 14th July
Things began well, despite having to go through every single one of my typical usernames which were apparently taken. Then it was time to pick my starter Pokémon and, although there’s a way to catch Pikachu – the little sh*t who is absolutely a favourite for everyone – I decided upon Squirtle, because water Pokémon just have a place in my heart, for some reason. Then, I ended up catching a Ghastly and a Rattata, both within the four walls of my home. That was great and all, but looking on the map, I could see nothing. No gyms, no Pokéstops – but then again, what did I expect from living in the middle of nowhere? Leaves kept being thrown and I was tempted to go for a walk, but then I realised- there’s no way I can catch anything on a walk due to having no data. Oh, boy, this is going to be fun. Let’s just skip the next five days and the sixth can be Day 2, okay? Okay.
Day 2: Wednesday 20th July
So – it turns out I was pretty successful catching Pokés without even walking about the streets of my neighbourhood. I was able to catch the majority of my current Party without moving out of bed. However, the Eevee that was supposedly nearby at 1AM on one of the days upset me just a little bit. So – what have got so far? Let’s take a look:
So, overall, not too shabby, really, given the circumstances.
Day 4: Friday 22nd July
First day out on the hunt! A trip out to the city of Wakefield meant that my 3G was enabled and I was all set to catch some more Pokés! Today was the first time I had experienced seeing the various landmarks such as gyms and Pokéstops and, if I’m honest, I was quite excited, as sad that sounds. Catch-wise, I mostly got more Ratattas and Pidgeys; it seems that they make up the majority of the Pokémon population around this area. Saying that, however, I managed to catch a Goldeen, a Magikarp and even an Eevee among many others, so it’s not all bad! Today I also reached Level 5 (finally!) which meant that I could choose what team to compete as. Considering the majority of my friends from university had already picked theirs, I was a little late and perhaps a little too influenced. However, based on the colours in my local area and the area around university, I decided to team up with my friends on Team Valor. Watch out, Mystic and Instinct!
Day 7: Monday 25th July
Well – seven days are up! Today was a day trip to the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, which is famous for it’s association with the Brontë family including famous authors Emily, Charlotte and Anne who wrote Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall respectively. They’re three of my favourite authors of all time, hence the trip there, but whilst walking across the bleak moors, what did I find? A Pokéstop and a Pokémon! That’s more than I find around my neighbourhood!
So – what’s my verdict on this gaming phenomenon? The concept is good; playing Pokémon and getting exercise at the same time. However, there are some negatives. Firstly, the variety of Pokémon within one location is diabolical. I have lost count how many Weedles I caught. I know Niantic is currently working on this, however, so I won’t complain too much. Next is the issue of battery power. Some reported that they were surprised that their batteries didn’t die as quick as they expected them to. Now, either they severely underestimated their battery lives or they were simply exaggerating somewhat. Playing on an iPhone 5C, a model that’s arguably a little outdated, I noticed my battery was draining quite quickly. Turning off AR, however, although didn’t make it as ‘exciting’ as seeing the Pokémon I was catching on my floor or about to get run over by a car in ‘real life’, did work in making the battery last longer, which I was pleasantly surprised at, if I’m completely honest. Speaking of the AR feature, is it really necessary? Not really. Perhaps I have this opinion as a relatively new fan of the Pokémon games, but turning off AR simply made Pokémon Go feel as if I was playing any other game on my Nintendo, which I, honestly, prefer.
Personally, I think that, with future updates, this game could be brilliant. Improving issues with the probability of catching a variety of Pokémon in the first place is definitely the right place to start, however there are so many more updates I want to say. 1v1 battling, maybe, more customization, more generations of Pokémon… There are so many possibilities that Niantic can use to improve this game so much. My only concern is that the hype that this game currently has may die before these updates can bring the life the game deserves, arguably making it less and less of a ‘hit’ as the weeks go by…